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Bicycle Diaries Hardcover – 6 Aug 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber (6 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571241026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571241026
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.8 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Entertaining . . . newcomers will enjoy these off-the-cuff sketches from an unpretentious cultural polymath; acolytes will cherish a closer look at Byrne's weird, wonderful brain chemistry."
--Time Out New York
"Whether you are a cyclist or not, Byrne's insights into everything from outside art to aboriginal folklore are wry, witty, and more often than not, wise as well."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"Reading Bicycle Diaries makes cosmic indifference a lot easier to deal with."
--The Seattle Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

An utterly unique and personal travelogue from a cult figure in contemporary music.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Byrne is a committed cycling campaigner who takes bikes with him as he travels the world, mainly to the cities where his musical and artistic work takes him. When he has time off, he uses his bike - usually a full-size folding mountain bike he puts in a suitcase to travel on planes - to wander about and explore. It is this aspect of the book which most interested me, because he seems to be a practitioner of the derive, the engaged but directionless wander first proposed by the situationists as a suitable way to move through cities.

As the title suggests, the material for the book evolved in diary form over time, and the structure of the book reflects this. It is right, and true to the material, that this should be so, but it does mean that the various entries are of variable quality. Nevertheless, books of this kind, where an intelligent and engaged observer with a liberal agenda but no particular end in mind takes a close look at localities, are scarce indeed. In the hands of a travel writer, or a journalist, a totally different book would have emerged, but actually, this is the book I wanted.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After enjoying an impressive back catalogue of Talking Heads LPs over the years, this book offered a fresh and invigorating insight for me, of David Byrne, not the musician... but the avid cyclist I had no idea about! A thought provoking read from the mad professor of New Wave Rock as he enthusiastically takes you on an entertainingly informative and philosophical journey through the cycle routes of US cities and beyond!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a little puzzling. When I eventually finished it (which took some perseverance) I was tempted to read it again to see if the dull/meandering bits were as just as I remembered them...or if the good and enlightening bits really were worth the bother. In the end, I was content just to finish the book the first time round. I am a fan of DB and I think it was mainly my fond memories of watching and listening to the Talking Heads that kept me going with this one as it just rambled along with nothing engaging enough to make me want to start the next chapter having finished the one before. Perhaps a good editor could have pulled it together better but that could be said about a lot of books (Morrissey's autobiog for example).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has a dual identity, part travelogue, and part common-sense examination of what makes a pleasant, liveable city, and what doesn't. I found this to be a refreshingly straightforward approach, and far more interesting than the average travel memoir.

Byrne is particularly good when examining U.S. cities, from the horrific but fascinating decline of Detroit, to the hopeful reinvention of New York. One excellent passage in particular sticks in the mind:

"Since the onslaught of the automobile in the middle of the last century, and the efforts of its enablers, like Robert Moses in New York, the accepted response to congestion has been to build more roads, especially roads that are high speed and with limited access. Eventually it became clear that building more roads doesn't actually relieve congestion - ever. More cars simply appear to fill these new roads and more folks imagine that their errands and commutes might be accomplished more easily on these new expressways. Yeah, right. People end up driving more, so instead of the existing traffic levels remaining constant and becoming dispersed on the new ribbons of concrete, the traffic simply increases until those too are filled. That's what New York and a lot of other cities are realizing now. The old paradigm is finally being abandoned."

Thank goodness for that.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David Byrne surprised me by being so enjoyably readable. This book is a wonderful travelogue. Its quirky as it gives a cyclists view of the major cities he visits, but he also writes in a very free way about really varied topics. His style meanders somewhat like the bikerides he takes, he speaks of architecture, local history, politics, the art scenes,and interesting meetings and evenings out with characters met along the way. He is a knowledgeable chap,and does not seem so avante garde in print. If you liked the Talking Heads, or bike riding, or travel, or all three such as me, you will enjoy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
While most of the media's favourite darlings worry about their media image, David Byrne has once again showed everyone how it should be done. Like he did in the 80's with his incredibly innovative songs and melodies, here he is paving the way towards a healthier, happier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle. It was very interesting reading this book to see how cyclists cope in other countries. I remember being shocked after a visit to The Netherlands. Cycling seemed the norm. Everyone gave way to cyclists. 8am in the morning and the cycle paths were full of cyclists. Here in the UK everyone seems to drive everywhere. This book inspired me to buy a folding bike and cycle to work. I'm sure if Elvis had read this he would have sold his Cadillac collection and cycled to the recording studio too.
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Format: Paperback
David Byrne is better known for his music than his writing output. Although he's authored quite a few books this one stands out as one of his more mainstream offerings.

It's a book driven by, and full of, a passion for cycling and written by a practising pedal-head. Someone who's enthusiastically used a bicycle as a principal form transportation in his native New York since the early 1980s. And who endeavours to explore various parts of the world in the same human-powered manner.

The first chapter is a wide-ranging, and rather nostalgic, exploration into a number of American Cities. Unfortunately, he encounters many rather frustrating, disconnected rides through communities chopped into ghettos by massive concrete ribbons.

Subsequent chapters are dedicated to one particular city. As seen from a cyclist perspective, it offers a new way of exploring and interacting with cities you might already have some knowledge about. His artistic eye picks out the unconventional, the significant, the sublime and the striking across the urban landscape and in the local art, music and film culture.

Always a deep thinker, his views are heartfelt and expressed with zeal - at times in an intensely earnest discourse. His observations and very personal points of view are enhanced by a collection of text-embedded photographs. As you might expect, the majority of these images are very different to the usual tourist fare, and interesting in their own right.

It's a brilliantly eccentric and highly personal book, delivered in a lovely embossed cloth cover. Even the epilogue entertains with its look into the future of transportation, and an eye catching selection of drawings illustrating some of his bike rack designs - many of which now adorn the streets of NewYork.
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